The look and feel of new upholstery...
The look and feel of new upholstery returns that showroom appeal to an interior. Tighten the springs and replace the foam to make the seat much firmer and make you sit higher
Upholstery...the last frontier. The majority of Corvette owners who work on their cars have no aversion to picking up wrenches and performing serious surgery on multi-thousand-dollar motors or life-protecting brakes and suspension. Yet when it comes to upholstery, they usually pass this much cleaner work to others. I admit to being in this group; I've rebuilt or restored just about everything on a Corvette with the notable exception of upholstering seats.
If you want to go boldly where you have not gone before, the following pages will help by detailing step-by-step how to install new seat covers and seat foam. Plus the sidebar will show the new seat upholstery options that are available, enabling Corvette owners to jump in at any comfort level. The seats being upholstered are from a C3 but the process is similar on many model years.
Although doing-it-yourself is within the ability of any reasonably talented wrench-turner, sometimes there are good reasons to send the seats to an experienced and well-supplied Corvette upholsterer. For example, if your seat frames seem weak, they may need welding. Also, if your seats have been poorly repaired or if you have custom upholstery, there may be a number of small parts that are missing or need replacement. You'd have to go chasing around to find them but a Corvette business that does a lot of upholstering will have them on-hand.
Doing-it-myself was surprisingly rewarding. It was good to see how the loops, rods, and links are used to pull the upholstery into tucks and pleats, and it helps to evaluate and appreciate other upholstery. Another surprise was that pulling the links through foam was harder than expected. However, new upholstery options can eliminate that chore, as described in the sidebar.
Not only was the process better than I expected, the end result was too. The new upholstery looks great and it makes the entire car seem fresh and new. Everybody who gets into the car comments on it. The new upholstery is a visual, tactile and olfactory treat. You'll like that new leather smell so much that you'll park the car with the windows up to preserve it for as long as possible.
|Difficulty Index - 2 Wrenches|
|Anyone's Project: no tools required||1 Wrench|
|Beginner: basic tools||2 Wrenches|
|Experienced: special tools||3 Wrenches|
|Accomplished: special tools and outside help||4 Wrenches|
|Professionals Only: send this work out||5 Wrenches|
|Parts List ||All items below are for a set (2 seats) |
|1972-1973 Seat Cover, Leather |
|LSC727301 ||$435.00 |
|1963-1978 Seat Foam Buns |
|Original Style SFB ||$189.00 |
|1970-1978 Seat Installation Kit |
|SIK707800 ||$31.00 |
|All years Seat Hog Ring Pliers |
|HRP530000 ||$22.00 |
The old leather covers had...
The old leather covers had become hard and cracked after a dozen years of Florida sun and sweat, and 100,000-plus miles of seat time. Tip: I 'rotated' the seats six years ago to equalize the wear by switching the well worn driver's seat with the seldom-used passenger's seat.
Maintenance tip: if you feel...
Maintenance tip: if you feel something hard pressing on the seat covering, remove the seat and inspect it closely. This wear hole was caused by a clip that worked loose. Another tip: apply penetrating oil on the seat bolts (from above and below) days before removing the seats. If the bolt still turns hard, hold the weld nut with vise grips or a wrench to prevent it from breaking loose.
After the seats are out of...
After the seats are out of the car, remove the tracks. A 1/4-inch drive 3/8 socket fits through the front hole. Slide the track for access to the rear bolts. Tip: Use two people to remove the seat. It's not heavy but the sharp corners of the seat tracks instantly chip paint or gouge nearby upholstery. If a helper is not available, place duct tape on the sharp corners of the seat track.
The plastic seat back lifts...
The plastic seat back lifts up and off after removing the two lower attachment screws. If there is a seat latch, remove the bezel and then unbolt the lower end from the bottom cushion. Remove the hinge pivot bolts to separate the back cushion from the lower.
The upper end of the latch...
The upper end of the latch assembly is attached with two nuts. Peel back the upholstery and push aside or tear out foam if necessary to locate the studs. Sheet metal screws attached the latch assembly at its middle and the lower end. Mark the locations if larger screws were used in stripped-out holes.
Removal of the latch assembly...
Removal of the latch assembly provides better access to the three speed nuts that hold the upper molding on the back cushion. Two of the chrome molding studs are visible here, along with the larger two steel studs that attached the release assembly.